Sugar is a nutrient that we commonly overeat in the Standard North American Diet. Everything seems to have added sugar – salad dressings, breads, marinates and sauces, and even sushi rice! And most processed foods – canned, jarred and boxed foods – have added sugar. It’s important to get into the habit of reading food labels at the grocery store before making purchases so that you know what ingredients you are feeding your body. While the body requires sugar to function, eating too much of it (particularly refined ones like white granulated sugar) is associated with poor immunity, inflammation, gut issues, skin conditions, diabetes, PMS, food cravings, fatigue, anxiety and much more.
If sugar is listed as one of the first few ingredients on a food label, it’s probably not going to do your body any favours. Having said that, sugar isn’t always listed as “sugar.” In fact, it is known to moonlight under various other names. So it’s important to know what to look for.
Here are some of the other names for sugar that are often found on food labels:
- Cane juice
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice
And this is just the start! SugarScience (developed by a team of scientists from the University of California, San Francisco) have a created a full, comprehensive list of all the other names that sugar is listed under. You can find it here: http://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/what-is-sugarscience.html – .WrUOTiMrK2w
Now you might be wondering, What can I eat instead to satisfy my sweet tooth? As with everything, sugary foods should be eaten in moderation. (Not always easy, I know.) The ones that are gentler on the body are the natural, whole sugars – those that haven’t been processed like refined sugar. They are:
- Fruit (especially low sugar fruit like green apples and berries)
- Maple syrup
- Dates and other dried fruit (no sugar added)
While it’s important to avoid too much sugar, it’s also important to remember that the brain’s source of fuel is sugar, so you don’t want to avoid sugar completely if you want to function well (unless you’re on a sugar-restricted diet like the Ketogenic diet, for example). Whole grains, legumes, root vegetables and the naturally sweet foods listed above are great sources to acquire the sugars that your body needs to function well.
Finally, it’s important to remember that cravings for sugar may be your body’s way of trying to tell you something. Perhaps you need more sleep, or to balance your blood sugar, or satisfy a nutrient deficiency like magnesium. Always listen to your body for cues as to what it’s really trying to tell you.